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Reader Comments (15)

Posted: Oct 31st 2010 12:17PM pcgneurotic said

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I think sometimes we do get too close to our favourite games, and then, depending on our personality type, we either get angry and aggressive about her foibles and eccentricities, or we get bored and restless and mooch off to a different game for a while.

Posted: Oct 31st 2010 1:14PM (Unverified) said

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There is a lot to like in AoC; sadly the horrible community overshadadows most of that, and we are left with a big lonley world that is inhabited by a handful of asshats.

Posted: Oct 31st 2010 3:29PM Sean D said

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I understand where you're coming from. I enjoyed AoC quite a lot for a few months. I left only after I became bored with what I think of as the accepted structure of MMOs these days - the 'kill ten rats' (and other quest categories) design. AoC is like many other MMOs in that regard, but in my opinion they do the 'kill ten rats' better than most if not all other MMOs simply because the environment; the music, the graphics, the voice-acting (what there is, anyway - Tortage was great) is done so well.

I also agree that blogs and forums such as these tend to be frequented by people who want their opinions heard, which isn't a bad thing when those opinions are stated rationally and maturely. Unfortunately, many people just want the attention that comes from making disrespectful posts and don't care about being rational or mature. We all know that. It's a no-brainer.

The part that's starting to bother me a bit is that these vocal trolls/whiners seem to be supported by the blogs and forums they're posting in. I can't tell you how many times I've read articles based on the same or similar volatile topics such as permanent death, disrespectful portrayal of the female gender, power vs. casual gaming, what qualities make a good MMO, etc. articles here on Massively and other sites. They are important topics, but they've been talked about a great deal, but they haven't affected change in the industry (that I have seen).

You (all) validate the opinions (I use the term 'opinions' loosely as most of the time they are just inflammatory posts) of the trolls when you respond to them. You give them a reason to keep posting because you're giving them the attention they seek. Just like this, when you instigate and perpetuate conversations about volatile topics, the quality of AoC in the case of this article, by posting articles here and elsewhere, you're inviting derision. It's unreasonable to invite derision and also complain that you're receiving it.

I'm not picking on you, Jef. Every games journalist seems to be doing it these days and it's the trend that's frustrating, not you or them. I'm just getting tired of reading the same articles. Creativity in writing about games seems to have stagnated. Maybe it's appropriate given that creativity in games themselves seems to have stagnated.

Hopefully GW2 will at least crack the mold. They seem to be talking the talk so far.

Posted: Oct 31st 2010 3:33PM Sean D said

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Edit - They are important topics, but they've have been talked about a great deal AND they haven't affected change in the industry (that I have seen).
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Posted: Oct 31st 2010 4:18PM Jef Reahard said

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I see where you're coming from to a point, but I also don't care to choose my topics based on what might (or might not) bring out the trolls. I write about stuff that interests me and/or that I'd like to see improved, and if this dovetails with the vocal minority (or any other group), that's purely coincidence rather than targeted writing.

I know you weren't addressing your post specifically to me, but that's just an example of how I choose topics. I'm sure other writers here at Massively and elsewhere feel differently.

I agree that we're in a bit of stagnation period, but also keep in mind that these articles (and any others) aren't what drives change in this industry. People voting with their wallets is the only catalyst the developers and publishers will respond to. Articles and opinion pieces can present the facts and state their cases, but they won't ultimately result in any changes, particularly if the majority of consumers are blissfully unaware of the points they contain.

Anyhow, thanks for reading and commenting.
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Posted: Nov 3rd 2010 1:33PM Sean D said

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Thanks for responding, man.

My point was basically this: the negativity bug won't be squashed (especially in regards to such loved/hated games like AoC) by inspiring conversation about the characteristics of a game (variety, the world, the music) that have, to varying degrees, been topics of heavy debate for a long time already. In other words, many would disagree that there is a lot of variety to AoC. Just as well, many would probably agree with you that the world is graphically attractive, but there are some for whom the style isn't appealing. The music is gorgeous, in my opinion. I couldn't agree more with you on this one. At the same time I can imagine that there may be those who turn the music off and turn up the heavy metal while they pound enemies.

Personally, I agree with you in regards to the world and music, but I found the game to be lacking any variety once I left Tortage. At least, there wasn't enough variety to keep me going. Maybe that's a fault of Tortage. The introductory experience builds you up to believing that the entire game is going to respond to your actions, at least in some noticeable way, and then you're left on the docks of Tarantia without any real purpose but to run around looking for yellow exclamation marks again (or crafting, or grinding faction, or PvP etc.). The game transitions from a unique experience to a general one. The player goes from being *the* hero to being *another* hero.

Anyway, reinvigorating conversation on these topics just serves to reopen old wounds for a lot of people and invites criticism...um, typically. I've noticed that this thread hasn't received the usual amount of ranting about AoC that AoC columns usually receive, which I count as a good thing. Maybe the ranters are tired of the topic. Maybe your words reached their reasonable selves. Maybe I'm wrong.

It was great shoving these ideas around with you in any case. Keep at it.

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Posted: Oct 31st 2010 4:06PM (Unverified) said

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"conventional wisdom holds (and I happen to agree) that most of the people are contentedly playing while a subset are engaging in all manner of forum drama."

Yeah? Bet square-Enix shared your "coventional wisdom" as well. And they found out in spades how wrong it is.

Funcom believes the same thing. They've made it clear ever since beta of AO that they believe only a small portion of their players are unhappy because all the "happy" people are in the game playing.

However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that rather than those people ingame and not on forums being happy, they are simply finishing out their subscription while watching if anything improves. Nothing improves, they don't get on the forums, they leave.

See, you can consider one angry customer with legitimate complaints just a small portion of a happy non-forum posting population if you want. As for me, I see one legitimately angry forum goer as 50 possible cancellations.

Then again, maybe you like games to hemorrhage players continually from launch, like Anarchy Online, Age of Conan, and Final Fantasy XIV.

Posted: Oct 31st 2010 5:26PM pcgneurotic said

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You've got a point, sure, but your examples are but two valid ones amidst fifteen years+ of mmog history, wherein it has often been the case that contented players are contented... because they're busy happily playing. The unhappy ones take the time out to talk about it on the forums etc. It's logical.
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Posted: Oct 31st 2010 5:48PM (Unverified) said

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no, you are wrong ;)
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Posted: Oct 31st 2010 10:29PM Heraclea said

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I would say that I've always been skeptical of the notion that forum posters are atypical of the player base. But on the official AoC forums, almost everything is about PvP: almost all the class and build advice, and almost all of the complaining. On the other hand, most of the people I play the game with regularly participate in PvP only seldom if ever.

The problem for that particular game is that apparently PvP combat mechanics are not sharply distinguished from PvE mechanics, which means that any PvP related changes affect the actual game as well.
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Posted: Oct 31st 2010 6:04PM Graill440 said

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Good article.

Complaining does change games or what you people call rants, i am proof of that.Two others and myself pressed an issue with MOH (medal of honor) in beta, while not an MMO, it is a multiplayer platform. The company blew us off. I called them and told them my intent to contact Military PAO (retired military, i have friends....), they stated i was covered by an NDA, I told them this wasnt covered, they lost, and they also lost alot of sales because of having a hard head and not listening to its potential subscribers, regardless of affiliation. This story made the news.

For every 1 person that complains about a title there are 50 other gamers that either do not want to take the time or simply figure others will do it for them.........like voting turnout. And for every one developer that steps back and rethinks their ideas due to a forum or email, there are 20 developers that think they know more than you about what you like, i mean if they like it and the funded research yuppies liked it the subscribers MUST like it.......right? (grin)

You have solid examples of potential subscribers over the years and decades bitching about these developers, and you see the same ideas from these "ranters" slowly being implemented by developers. Gamers arent changing, instead the developers losing money are changing to stay in business, all the while the burn in the back of their minds... "why didnt MY vision work?"

So to the consumers out there, keep complaining, make devs pay by word of mouth and use the BBB and legal systems, it all works and plenty of examples are out there of developers paying the price for not listening. You have a voice, regardless of how your stereotyped or how someone else thinks you SHOULD think the industry is headed for major changes in quality control, the bs we see often in todays MMO's will eventually die off. You can change things.

Now excuse me, i have a pumpkin patch to sit in with some friends.

Posted: Oct 31st 2010 7:40PM Tom in VA said

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I think that too often, in the modern online forum lexicon, "positive poster = fanboi" and "negative poster = troll". After all, the easiest way to disparage a post or comment you disagree with, be it pro or con, is to use the term "fanboi" or "troll". Sometimes forum posters do this to one another; sometimes even bloggers do this. Sometimes it's even true. More often, however, it's just a cheap argumentative ploy, and most people, fortunately, see it for what it is.

There is tremendous value in discussing the various aspects of AoC. While I tried the AoC demo, I frankly didn't like the game at all -- but then I never made it much past the Tortage tutorial (which was a bad "first impression" for me). Essays like Jef's here, however, make me think AoC might be worth a second look. (I'll wait till it goes F2P, tho. ;) ) Even though I don't play the game, I am interested in how it's faring and what its strengths are.

I think game developers do "listen in" on forums like Massively (well, some of them, the smart ones anyway) and do sometimes revise their games accordingly, insofar as they are able. One of the reasons many of the upcoming games look so good (at least to me), is that the devs working on games like GW2 and SWTOR, as well as those working on existing games such as LotRO, AoC, and STO, really ARE responding and making adjustments in response to all those critical posts out there in cyberspace.

Criticism, constructive criticism (of both the positive and negative varieties), and ongoing discussion is a very good thing.

Posted: Nov 1st 2010 11:28AM TheJackman said

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"light-hearted titles like EQII, WoW, and others mostly avoid." really did you even play the lich king or the cata beta there are a ton of really dark story lines and settings in WoW...


Posted: Nov 1st 2010 11:47AM Jef Reahard said

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Yes, I'm playing both as we speak, and there's nothing remotely dark about either of them. Blizzard occasionally attempts to do something adult with their lore, but it just doesn't work. There's too much tongue-in-cheek pop culture junk, and the visuals always thwart any attempt at dark or heavy material.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the game, but the lore is amateur hour.
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Posted: Nov 9th 2010 10:52AM (Unverified) said

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This is all fluff. Whatever AOC's strengths, the servers seem emptier and emptier with every passing day. Global chat in Cimmeria is all but dead, as is PVE there and Roleplay. Wiccanna seems healthier on the PVE end, but not by much.

Maybe AOC is full of "grown-ups" who are busy at this time of year, working, holiday shopping, doing after-school routines. Whatever. Maybe, magically, players will return in-force for the holidays.

I doubt it though. As a prior poster said, most people are waiting out their subscriptions, finishing AA feats, and trying to down T3 content with their remaining time.

Come the release of Cataclysm, and later SWTOR, I doubt there will be many people left in AOC, and it's a damn shame.

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